The 10 Most Famous Cars in TV and Film History

KITT from Knight Rider

Featuring iconic cars owned by characters such as Batman, Del Boy Trotter, Inspector Morse and Starsky and Hutch 

The General Lee – Dukes of Hazard

1. The General Lee from the The Dukes of Hazzard

Despite having car doors which didn’t open properly – you had to slide through the window to gain access – this 1969 Dodge Charger became one of the most iconic TV cars of the late 20th century. Even a quarter of a century after the series ended it’s hard not to think of the Dukes of Hazzard, and the General Lee, when you hear a car horn playing the opening bars of the song Dixie.

KITT from Knight Rider

2. Knight Rider

Knight Rider followed hot on the heels of the Dukes of Hazzard (it made its debut in 1982) but soon overtook its rival in the ratings war thanks to the popularity of its main star. I’m talking, of course, about KITT rather than David Hasselhoff; KITT being the name of the car whose artificial intelligence thwarted many a criminal’s dreams.

Hasselhoff featured as Michael Knight in the series and a Pontiac Trans Am featured as KITT.

3. Doc Brown’s DeLorean

When the DeLorean car first rolled off the Belfast production line in the early 1980s its futuristic design and gull-wing-style passenger doors were arguably too ahead-of-its-time for it to succeed. DeLorean went bankrupt in 1982 but the year 1985 brought better luck for the car when the film Back to the Future was released. The movie converted the car into a cult classic by having it transport the main character back to 1955.

4. The Gran Torino from Gran Torino

The 1972 Gran Torino featured in the 2008 film of the same name is a bit like the movie’s main character Walt Kowalski, a part played by Clint Eastwood. Both car and character have seen better days but still retain an admirable growl and power – a recipe for a vintage film.

5. Starsky’s ‘detested’ Gran Torino

The Gran Torino has also proved to be a hit on the small screen.

In the 1970s detective series Starksy and Hutch, Starsky (played by Paul Michael Glaser) loves his red Gran Torino car and Hutch (David Soul) detests it.

In fact, in real life, it was the other way round. Apparently, Glaser took an instant dislike to the car, dubbing it ‘the striped tomato’ – a nickname that the series’ writers used in the script. Glaser thought that the idea of two under-cover cops using such a big, loud car was ridiculous and thought the car was ugly and childish-looking.

Starsky and Hutch fans disagreed with their hero’s assessment and the Gran Torino’s popularity rocketed.

6. James Bond’s Aston Martin

Accounts vary as to how 007 acquired his Aston Martin. In the book GoldenEye, author Ian Fleming reveals that Bond bought the DB5 himself for his own personal use. However, the film Casino Royale shows Britain’s most famous secret service agent winning the car in a game of poker. Whatever the real reason is, the car has served him (and Great Britain) well over the years.

7. Del Boy’s unreliable Reliant Regal

The dirty yellow Reliant Regal van used in Only Fools and Horses symbolised the unchanging fortunes of its owner Del Boy.

There were three of these vehicles used during the series’ ten-year run and all were emblazoned with the legend ‘Trotters Independent Trading Company’.

Boxer Ricky Hatton bought one of the original vehicles in 2004 and a 1972 model used from series six onwards fetched £44,227 when it was auctioned in 2007. “Lovely jubbly” as Del Boy would say. Why he didn’t buy a better motor from used car salesman Boycie is a mystery.

8. The Batmobile

One famous episode of Only Fools and Horses had Del Boy and Rodney leaping from their car dressed as Batman and Robin. The hapless duo did look a little like the Caped Crusaders but their Reliant Regal looked nothing like the Batmobile. But then what car did?

The 1966-1968 Batman TV series featured a heavily-modified Lincoln Futura concept car which had been languishing unloved and unused in a garage until three weeks before filming began.

9. Inspector Morse’s Jaguar

Whether it’s Gotham City or sleepy Oxfordshire, all good crime fighters need a good car and Inspector Morse was no exception. Morse’s burgundy Mark II Jaguar played a vital role in ferrying him to the country pubs where he conducted some of his finest work over a pint or two of real ale.

I’d like to say that the 1960 car was passed to Morse’s faithful sidekick Lewis when the great detective passed away. But it didn’t – instead being snapped up by a businessman for £100,000 in 2005.

10. Basil Fawlty’s Austin 1100 Countryman Estate

This is the car which Basil thrashes with a tree branch after it breaks down in the Fawlty Towers’ episode Gourmet Night. Internet blog posts from fans of the series suggest that Corgi Toys brought out a toy model of the car which came with a Basil action figure and a miniature tree branch accessory.

Basil’s motor might not be as sleek or as powerful as some of the other cars mentioned here but it still deserves its cult status!